novel writing

It’s ALIVE! When Stories Take on a Life of Their Own

So this hasn’t always been the case, but over time, I have evolved into a ‘Discovery Writer’ (AKA: ‘Pantser,’ as in, ‘writing by the seat of your pants’ [as opposed to being a Planner]). I basically come up with a concept or jumping-off point, and find out where it leads (AKA: writing into the dark).

Sometimes, this method can be terrifying. (“Where the hell is this story going??”) But I have come to find it makes the writing process far more interesting (and fun!). It also means that a lot of times your stories or characters can end up taking a turn on you that you never saw coming.

I had this happen for all three of my most recent projects:

Legends of Lasniniar Goddess Almighty coverLegends of Lasniniar: Goddess Almighty

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When I first came up with my list of ideas for what I wanted to do for each upcoming Legend of Lasnniar fantasy adventure over the six latest installments I had planned to write and publish in a row (this one is number four), I intended to write this story from an entirely opposite point of view.

But after writing Quicksilver, which details the first meeting of Iarion and Felara, I thought it would be much more interesting to get inside Felara’s head for Goddess Almighty. And since Felara is basically a sociopath, the story turned out a few shades darker than I had originally thought it would.

Tale of the Tape Kira Brightwell coverTale of the Tape: A Kira Brightwell Short Novel

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When I made my list of ideas for the upcoming run of Kira Brightwell crime fiction shorts I wanted to write and publish in a row (eight in total), I basically wrote ‘high school story’ in my notebook for this one. I also had a vague idea of Kira trying to find another student’s missing car, but that was pretty much it.

I thought this story was going to be pretty straightforward before I started. But as things moved along, other complications beyond the missing car came out of the woodwork, and really, the missing car was only the beginning.

Tale of the Tape evolved from a vague, short story idea into a short novel of over 25,000 words. (Crazy, right?)

It basically ended up being a much bigger story than I would have intentionally planned. And it was fun to have just Kira and Rob running around trying to solve things again, with Trevor in full douchebag form (much like in Under Wraps).

Legends of Lasniniar Prevailing Wind coverLegends of Lasniniar: Prevailing Wind

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After writing the tangling mystery that ended up being Tale of the Tape, I needed a change of pace. (Back when she was in high school, Kira didn’t have any MMA skills. While Tale of the Tape has quite a bit of action and suspense, there isn’t any actual fighting in it, and I was itching to kick some ass at this point.)

Prevailing Wind is a sideways story from the World of Lasniniar epic fantasy series that focuses on Arinwyn during the time of Storm Rider. (She doesn’t actually appear in Storm Rider, but this is one of her own adventures that occurs ‘off-page’ during that novel. She first appears in Legends of Lasniniar: Without Wings, which takes place during the time of Soul Seeker.)

This story is an evolution of Arinwyn’s character after we first meet her in Without Wings. Both her magic and her secret heritage are a continuing theme that she is forced to struggle with.

…And what better way to kick things off than with a badass battle against a dragon?

This one definitely ended up having more action than I originally had planned for an internal struggle story, but the fighting actually ended up informing that struggle, so it all worked out.


So basically all three of these stories ended up being quite a bit different than they probably would have been if I had started with a detailed plot outline in hand. Does that make them better? No way to tell, really. But it definitely made them more interesting and fun for me to write (which is what helps keep me humming along).

And I’m hoping that makes them more interesting and fun to read as well.


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Posted by Jacquelyn in Behind the Books, Publishing Updates, Writing Updates, 0 comments

Adventures in Fiction Writing: When Sh*t Gets Too Real

A girl and her sharkosaurus.

When I started writing the Kira Brightwell series four years ago (Crap, has it really been that long??), I was excited to dip my toe into a new genre after writing only fantasy. I figured something like crime fiction would be a good fit for my strengths: action and quirky/snarky dialogue. The main difference from my fantasy projects is that it would take place in the ‘real world’. No problem, right?


See, one of the things I find the most liberating about writing fantasy is that the entire world comes out of my own head. Locations can be wherever/whatever I want or need them to be, and I can invent magical systems and creatures as I go along. Basically, there are no limitations. (That being said, it has become a bit of a challenge over the years to keep track of my ever-expanding Lasniniar series to make sure I’m sticking to my own canon, so I don’t end up getting stuck in a Lucy Lawless/Simpsons situation, lol.)

Originally, when I started planning the first Kira novel Split Decision, I was determined to use a real-world location. I was all over Google Maps, checking out Street View to see where locations within the story were in relation to each other and what they looked like, local crime rates, checking out colleges and universities, etc. (I’m sure Google gets very confused by my sketchy search history sometimes, which has included research for multiple ways to break into a car, how to break out of handcuffs, and footage of various MMA moves and holds, among other things.)

The whole real-world location thing was really starting to stress me out and stop me in my tracks. I had this crazy fear of someone calling me out on an inaccurate detail of what might possibly be their hometown. Then Mark saved me by suggesting I create a fictional town instead (La Valentia), framed within a real-world location (California). This hardly a new idea in fiction, and it really saved my ass. Suddenly, I felt like I had enough room to breathe again with an imaginary location that could be built to fit my needs and I would know better than anyone else.

…But then there was Kira. Continue reading →

Posted by Jacquelyn in Behind the Books, 0 comments